Let's discuss Daniel 9....
Let's discuss Daniel 9....
Jews for Judaism, an "anti-missionary" group, has a website that exists solely to debunk Yeshua (whom they keep referring to as "Jesus"), and to make Christianity and Messianic Judaism sound like evil cults that force Jews to convert. (We are actually not here to defend Christianity; but, rather the Messianic faith.)
Included among the hateful rhetoric on their site is their assertion that "Daniel 9" does not refer to the Messiah Yeshua, but to Cyrus (Daniel 9:25) and Alexander Yannai (Daniel 9:26) followed by the destruction of Jerusalem. Following are some of the Jews for Judaism "Frequently Asked Questions" about Daniel 9, along with our comments:
Question: I have noticed that there are many differences between Jewish Bible translations of Daniel 9:25-26 and several different Christian Bible translations. What should be the correct readings of the disputed words and phrases?
Jews for Judaism response: In our study of the different translations we will compare the Hebrew text with that of the King James Version of the Bible. It contains the grossest errors, which are, in whole or in part, duplicated by other Christian versions of the Bible.
First, the King James Version puts a definite article before "Messiah the Prince" (9:25). The original Hebrew text does not read "the Messiah the Prince," but, having no article, it is to be rendered "a mashiach ["anointed one," "messiah"], a prince," i.e., Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1, 13; Ezra 1:1-2).
The word mashiach is nowhere used in the Jewish Scriptures as a proper name, but as a title of authority of a king or a high priest. Therefore, a correct rendering of the original Hebrew should be: "an anointed one, a prince."
Second, the King James Version disregards the Hebrew punctuation. The punctuation mark 'atnach functions as the main pause within a sentence. The 'atnach is the appropriate equivalent of the semicolon in the modern system of punctuation. It thus has the effect of separating the seven weeks from the sixty-two weeks: ". . . until an anointed one, a prince, shall be seven weeks; then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again . . ." (9:25).
By creating a sixty-nine week period, which is not divided into two separate periods of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks respectively, Christians reach an incorrect conclusion, i.e., that the Messiah will come 483 years after the destruction of the First Temple.
Some Christians claim that there is something called a "prophetic year" of 360 days, thus shortening the interval between the beginning of the 483 years which they claim began in 444 B.C.E., and the date of the crucifixion of Jesus. They do this in order to make the dates coincide, but the claim of a "prophetic year" is without any scriptural foundation.
Third, the King James Version omits the definite article in Daniel 9:26, which should read: "And after the threescore and two weeks. . . ." By treating the sixty-two weeks as a distinct period, this verse, in the original Hebrew, shows that the sixty-two weeks mentioned in verse 25 are correctly separated from the seven weeks by the 'atnach. Hence, two anointed ones are spoken of in this chapter, one of whom comes after seven weeks (Cyrus), and the other after a further period of sixty-two weeks (Alexander Yannai).
Fourth, the words v'ayn lo (9:26) are incorrectly translated by the King James Version as "but not for himself." They should be translated as "he has nothing" or "he shall have nothing." There are Christian commentators who maintain this phrase has both meanings, but that claim cannot be supported grammatically.
The Netzarim Response:
First of all, we are wondering why the Jews for Judaism types insist on using ONLY the King James version to "prove" their points when other Bible versions word these same Scriptures a little differently? Perhaps they recognize that ol' King James tweaked the Scriptures a bit in order to introduce the erroneous concept of "trinity" into the world? Or is it because he ruined all of Acts 12 by using "Easter" instead of Passover? The KJV is fairly hard to understand, and often has to be translated into modern English before one can make sense of it....
Secondly, Jews for Judaism says the King James version "ignored Hebrew punctuation." Perhaps they need to be reminded that the original Hebrew had no punctuation! Vowels and punctuation were not invented until modern times.
Thirdly, who says the that Bible is talking about Cyrus? God certainly doesn't. And who, exactly, is Alexander Yannai? As far as we can tell, this person isn't mentioned anywhere in the Bible.
Finally: Jews for Judaism insists that the Christian dates are incorrect. However, they need to realize that their numbering system isn't correct, either.
It is a proven fact that there exist some major discrepancies between Rabbinic and conventional calendar date chronologies. Credit for the system of Jewish dating is given to Rabbi Yose ben Halafta. His work, Seder Olam Rabbah (The Great Order of the World) dating from the second century, was the first to establish the date from the creation of the world. His view was later adopted and included in the Talmud. (Note: His timeline is NOT part of the Bible!)
Conventional chronology is derived from the works of Greek historians from the Persian Period, from the works of the Egyptian astronomer Ptolomy in the second century AD, and from cuneiform inscriptions from ancient Persian palaces. Most scholars agree with the conventional chronology.
There is a difference of 170 years between Rabbinic chronology and conventional chronology. Conventional chronology states that the Persians ruled Israel from 539 BC to 332 BC (207 years). Rabbinic chronology says the Persians ruled for 52 years. There is only one scripture, Daniel 11:2, that would seem to agree with Rabbinic chronology; only four Persian kings are mentioned. Another interpretation could be that Daniel was only referring to the first few kings, the mightiest, or the ones whose reigns were important to the Jews. This was done at other places in the Scriptures. Nehemiah 12 names a succession of priests that is difficult to reconcile with a short period of 52 years. Utilizing the Biblical chronology and reconstructing post-Biblical history as well as he could, Rabbi Yose arrived at the conclusion that the world was created 3,828 years before the destruction of the Second Temple.
According to this calculation, the Romans destroyed the Temple in 68 AD. Rabbinic chronology is at odds with the accepted conventional chronology which establishes the date as 70 AD. Scholars differ by one or two years. From 70 AD until now, both Rabbinic and conventional chronologies agree. But the real difference is the length of the Persian Conquest. Rabbinic chronology has Koresh (Cyrus) defeating the Babylonians in 368 BC and Persian rule lasting 52 years (until 317 BC). This period of rule spanned three other Persian kings, preceded by Daryavesh the Mede (Darius) for one year. According to conventional chronology, Persian rule over the land of Israel lasted 207 years - the reigns of twelve Persian Kings (539-332 BC).
Bottom line: ANY calendar you choose to use is man-made. Because we are not God (who knows the very second the earth was created) it is simply impossible for mere humans to come up with an exact timeline. This means that these "timeline" arguments between Jews and Christians are fruitless.
Question: How can Christians apply the phrase v'ayn lo, "he has nothing" or "he shall have nothing" (Daniel 9:26) and Isaiah 53:12, where the suffering servant receives "a portion with the great," to Jesus?
Jews for Judaism responds: One needs to understand that both references, when read in the context of Christian theology, refer to Jesus after his death and supposed resurrection: Daniel 9:26 referring to after he is "cut off" and Isaiah 53:12 as a reward for his suffering and death.
Yet, v'ayn lo, "he has nothing" or "he shall have nothing" cannot refer to Jesus' situation at or after death, if one takes the New Testament seriously. Christianity claims that unlike mere mortal bodies which decay after death Jesus rose bodily into heaven, where he sits at the "right hand of the throne of the Majesty."
V'ayn lo certainly could not refer to a lack of wealth or followers, for this would not distinguish Jesus from the great majority of the world's population. One who "has nothing" or "shall have nothing" (Daniel 9:26) does not receive "a portion with the great" (Isaiah 53:12), does not rise bodily to heaven (Acts 1:9), and does not sit at the "right hand of the throne of the Majesty" (Hebrews 8:1). It is precisely with his death that Jesus was allegedly able to attain his rewards (Philippians 2: 8-9). Therefore, the application of both verses to Jesus is untenable.
The Netzarim Response:
As most people know, Bible interpretations vary, and the best thing is to check the original Hebrew versions. Jews for Judaism says that the KJV has incorrectly translated Daniel 9:26 because the Hebrew says, "has nothing" or "shall have nothing". While this might be the case, HOW does it prove that this verse is NOT speaking of Yeshua? Anyone who has read and understands the New Covenant knows - Yeshua our Redeemer, was a servant who truly "had nothing" while he was on earth, especially during the last three years on earth, before he was crucified.
And speaking of our Savior, we would like to challenge Jews for Judaism to produce any messiah, living or dead (other than Yeshua of Nazareth) who can or has fulfilled even half dozen of the predictions concerning Messiah!
If we look at the Messianic prophecies in the Old Covenant, we find that hundreds of prophecies were all fulfilled in the life of one individual - Yeshua of Nazareth! Speaking of eight key prophecies, Peter Stoner, a mathematician, points out, "We find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled eight of the prophecies is one in 100,000,000,000,000,000" (Science Speaks, Moody Press). And the probability of any one man fulfilling all of these hundreds of prophecies is a number too large to write down.
The Tanach says that the Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham through Isaac through Jacob through Judah, of the house of David; that he would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) in the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); that he would be preceded by a forerunner (Malachi 3:1), and it even predicts that he would arrive before the destruction of the Temple - which occurred in the year 70 C.E. (Daniel 9:24-26).
Furthermore, the Messiah would be a prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:18-19), rejected by his own people (Isaiah 53:3), betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9), sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12), smitten, spat upon and mocked (Psalm 22:7-8), crucified (Psalm 22), but would be raised from the dead in three days (Psalm 16:10, Jonah 1:17).
There are more than 300 prophecies in the Tanach which all find their fulfillment in one particular man...Yeshua!
Question: Is it true that sixty-nine "weeks" of the Seventy Weeks countdown of Daniel 9 starts in 444 B.C.E. and ends with the death of Jesus (30/33 C.E.)?
Jews for Judaism responds: Christian commentators prefer to start the Seventy Weeks countdown with 444 or 445 B.C.E. because it brings their calculations closer to the time period in which Jesus died (30/33 C.E.). A far better starting date is the decree of Cyrus (537 B.C.E) upon which all subsequent grants of approval were based (Isaiah 44:28). A correct reading of the passage and some simple arithmetic dispels any attempt to claim 444 B.C.E. as a starting date and Jesus' death in 30/33 C.E. as a terminus.
First, the seven weeks and the sixty-two weeks are really two separate periods and speak of two separate "anointed" ones. Second, even if we were to count 483 years from 444 B.C.E. we get to the year 38 C.E. Jesus is crucified in the period ranging from 30 to 33 C.E. But, the text of Daniel 9:26 says, "And after the sixty-two weeks an anointed one shall be cut off." This shows that if we use 444 B.C.E. as a starting date the alleged second "anointed one" was "cut off" in the period following the year 38 C.E. (that is, "after the sixty-two weeks"). There would be no connection to anyone "cut off" prior to that year. Thus, there is no reference here to Jesus.
The Netzarim Response:
"A far better starting date is the decree of Cyrus (537 B.C.E) upon which all subsequent grants of approval were based (Isaiah 44:28)." Really? Says who? Isaiah 44:28 states: "I say of Koresh (Cyrus), 'He is my shepherd, he will do everything I want. He will say of Yerushalayim, "You will be rebuilt," and of the temple, "Your foundation will be laid." ' " This verse in NO WAY suggests any "starting dates".
Furthermore, Jews for Judaism's version of the Jewish Bible supposedly reads that Daniel 9:26 says, "And after the sixty-two weeks AN anointed one shall be cut off..."
Jews for Judaism says that "there is no reference to Jesus". Well, there is no reference to Cyrus or Alenxander Yannai, either....
As an additional piece of information, the calculation of 69 1/2 weeks started in 457/458 BC and ended with the crucifixion in 30 AD. It is written in the Talmud that 40 years before the destruction of the temple in 70AD the miracles in the temple ceased. (See Talmudic Evidence for the Messiah at 30 CE.)
Question: Why do Jews say that the Seventy Weeks countdown begins with the Persian king Cyrus?
Jews for Judaism responds: It is Isaiah who proclaims that Cyrus would give the actual command to rebuild Jerusalem. God declares through the prophet, "He [Cyrus] shall build My city" (Isaiah 45:13; see also Ezra 1:1-8, 6:1-5). Indeed, it was Cyrus who issued a proclamation (ca. 537 B.C.E.) for the return, and for the rebuilding to start. This occurred forty-nine years after the destruction of Jerusalem. God declares concerning Cyrus, "He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasures; even saying of Jerusalem: 'She shall be built'; and to the Temple: 'Your foundation shall be laid'" (Isaiah 44:28). Hence, the Scriptures teach that it was during the reign of Cyrus that the rebuilding of the city began. This was symbolized, first of all, by the start of construction on the Second Temple, which was completed ca. 516 B.C.E., seventy years after the destruction. It is with the completion of the Temple that the period of desolation officially terminates.
Isaiah 45:1 describes Cyrus as God's "anointed. His decree to rebuild Jerusalem comes forty-nine years after the destruction of the city and the Temple, which is the time when an "anointed one" (Daniel 9:25) is to come to fulfill the prophecy, ". . . until an anointed one, a prince, shall be seven weeks [forty-nine years]."
When all is said and done, the biblical record must speak for itself. That record shows that it was Cyrus (Isaiah 45:13), who is given credit by God for the rebuilding of Jerusalem. As we have seen, the initial effort to rebuild was a direct result of Cyrus'decree. All subsequent permits were based on this decree.
The Netzarim Response:
Daniel 9: 25 Know, therefore, and discern that seven weeks [of years] will elapse between the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Yerushalayim until an anointed prince comes. It will remain built for sixty-two weeks [of years], with open spaces and moats; but these will be troubled times. 26 Then, after the sixty-two weeks, Mashiach will be cut off and have nothing. The people of a prince yet to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary, but his end will come with a flood, and desolations are decreed until the war is over. 27 He will make a strong covenant with leaders for one week [of years]. For half of the week he will put a stop to the sacrifice and the grain offering. On the wing of detestable things the desolator will come and continue until the already decreed destruction is poured out on the desolator." (CJB)
Timing: 483 YEARS
There are many ways this is calculated - In Nehemiah 2:1 we see the decree to rebuild, issued in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes, (about 445 B.C.) Messiah comes 483 years after the decree to rebuild is issued [Calculated by adding 7 weeks (49 years) + 62 weeks (434 years)] this arrives at about the time of Yeshua's triumphant entry in Jerusalem.
Messiah comes 434 years after rebuilding, or 483 years after decree is first issued giving permission to rebuild -- hence 483 years (7 weeks + 62 weeks). Working form earlier permissions to rebuild (Cyrus' earlier decree) arrives at about the birth of Yeshua, instead of near the end of His earthly life. Either way it's calculated, only Yeshua could be Mashiach -- no one else fits into Daniel's timeframe.
Some Problems With Counter Missionary (Jews For Judaism) Arguments Re: Daniel's 70 Weeks.
Counter missionaries attempt to say the anointed one removed represents the cohen - that is, the timing coincides with loss of temple and therefore, loss of temple service by the priests. The main problem is that no matter which way you calculate (using either decree to rebuild) - the temple destruction is at least 40 - 70 years after the predicted time has passed. This year counting will only get you to lifetime Messiah, and not beyond.
Further, the prediction is chronological, the anointed one is cut off before the armies destroy the sanctuary. That would make the distinction between the supposed 'anointed/cohen' prophecy and the separate "sanctuary destroyed' prophecy disappear - if they were the same event. The destruction of the temple naturally meant end to temple workers, yet Daniel has divided these not only into two separate prophetic events but has shown chronologically that one event occurs before the other.
The passage is giving a marker that AFTER anointed one is cut off, the temple and city will then be destroyed. How many years that pass between anointed one being cut off and temple being destroyed aren't given. So, the cohen were not cut off "until" the temple was destroyed and the cohen weren't cut off until after the alloted time for this prediction had passed. The cohens simply do not fulfill the prophecy of the 'anointed one' - Yeshua does.
Question: If Cyrus is the "anointed one" mentioned in Daniel 9:25 who is the "anointed one" mentioned in Daniel 9:26?
Jews for Judaism responds: The first seven weeks ends in 537 B.C.E. The second segment of the Seventy Weeks period, sixty-two weeks in length, covered by verse 26, culminates in 103 B.C.E. (586-49-434=103 B.C.E.). Verse 26 indicates that "after sixty-two weeks an anointed one shall be cut off." This "anointed one" is the High Priest Alexander Yannai (103-76 B.C.E.) who came to power just at the end of the sixty-two week period in 103 B.C.E. and was the last of the important Hasmonean leaders. The phrase "after sixty-two weeks" indicates the time frame during which the "anointed one shall be cut off," that is, suffer karet, "excision." The penalty accompanying karet is here aptly described as "to have nothing," or "be no more." This punishment is given to Alexander Yannai infamous for his unjust, tyrannical, and bloody rule. He is notorious for his open violent animosity against the Pharisees and his brazen rejection of the Oral Law. For example, Josephus records that Alexander Yannai fought against the Pharisees for six years, "and . . . slew no fewer than fifty thousand of them" (Jewish Antiquities XIII. 13. 5. ). He also "ordered some eight hundred of the Jews to be crucified, and slaughtered their children and wives before the eyes of the still living wretches" (Jewish Antiquities XIII. 14. 2. ).
The Netzarim Response:
Jews for Judaism's argument is weak. They declare that: "The first seven weeks ends in 537 B.C.E.". According to whom? Who "declared" the first 7 weeks to end in 537 BCE? Where is it verified in the Bible?
Furthermore, they claim: "This 'anointed one' is the High Priest Alexander Yannai..." Again - SAYS WHO? The BIBLE certainly doesn't! Jews for Judaism keeps presenting quotes from Jewish Antiquities, which does not, and cannotprove that the BIBLE is referring to Alexander Yannai as "anointed one". Their source has nothing whatsoever to do with the Bible!
The following scripture can be seen in David H. Stern's "Complete Jewish Bible":
Did Alexander Yannai "make a strong covenant with leaders for one week"? Did he put a stop to the sacrifice and grain offerings for "half a week"? Was there an "already decreed destruction" poured out on him?
Let's look at some more facts on Yeshua who was foreshadowed throughout the Tanach:
Zechariah tells us something very interesting about the Messiah's return:
"And I (God) will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a firstborn" (Zechariah 12:10).
In other words, someday the Jewish people will be confronted by the Messiah "whom they have pierced" and will suddenly realize how wrong they have been to reject Him. This is the true Day of Atonement, when all of Israel will repent and turn to the Messiah.
In case someone wishes to dispute that we are "reading something into" this passage that isn't there - that it isn't speaking of the Messiah - here are some quotes from two respected and authoritative Jewish sources:
Rabbi Abraham ben Ezra (12th century): "All the heathen shall look to me to see what I shall do to those who pierced Messiah, the son of Joseph."
Rabbi Moshe el Sheikh, chief rabbi of Safed: "I will do yet a third thing, and that is, that 'they shall look unto me,' for they shall lift up their eyes unto me in perfect repentance, when they see Him whom they pierced, that is Messiah, the Son of Joseph; for our Rabbis, of blessed memory, have said that He will take upon Himself all the guilt of Israel, and shall then be slain in the war to make an atonement in such manner that it shall be accounted as if Israel had pierced Him, for on account of their sin He has died; and, therefore, in order that it may be reckoned to them as a perfect atonement, they will repent and look to the blessed One, saying, that there is none beside Him to forgive those that mourn on account of Him who died for their sin: this is the meaning of 'They shall look upon me.'"
Question: Is the Seventy Weeks countdown of Daniel 9 computed according to a 360-day "prophetic year"?
Jews for Judaism responds: There is no "prophetic year" of 360 days alluded to anywhere in the Bible. It is a nineteenth century Christian invention developed through imaginative use of the Genesis flood narrative.
Some post-biblical sectarian literature and the apocryphal books of Jubilees and Enoch advocate a calendar consisting of 364 days, divided into twelve months of thirty days each. At the end of each three-month cycle a thirty-first day was added to the month. But, this is still not a 360-day "prophetic year."
Obviously, the calendar used in the Daniel 9 countdown has nothing to do with the nineteenth century development of a spurious 360-day "prophetic year."
The Netzarim Response:
The Refiner's Fire agrees that Christianity is probably wrong in using a "360 day year" to "force" the computations of the prophecy to match Yeshua's death, but Jews for Judaism are are equally wrong in declaring that their interpretation is the correct one based on their supposed "facts". We would argue that the entire Pentateuch and Prophecies are pointing toward a Messiah - something Jews for Judaism might agree with - but we would ask them as to why they are so determined to say the scripture does NOT point to Yeshua? If they deny that Daniel is talking about the cutting off of the Messiah Yeshua, then what scriptures can they produce that will point to THEIR Messiah?
Why do they insist on using God's Word try to find ways to explain that the Messiah has NOT come?
Also, there is a serious question one should ask about the meaning of the term "year" in Biblical times. The Hebrew year was established in AD 359, and is a combination of lunar and solar events. Who on earth today knows exactly what the "year" was in Daniel's time? Who on earth knows what the prophecy really meant by whatever Hebrew word was translated to mean "weeks"? This is probably another very deep study.